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Elisabeth Schwarzkopf – Recitals
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
1. Ave Maria [4.50]; 2. Die Forelle [2.22]; 3. Auf dem Wasser zu singen [3.29]; 4. Ungeduld [2.58]; 5. Der Musensohn [2.18]; 6. Was bedeutet die Bewegung [5.19]
Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
7. Feldeinsamkeit [3.45]; 8. Therese [1.57]; 9. Der Tod das ist die kuhle Nacht [3.13]; 10. Wiegenlied [1.53]; 11. Von ewiger Liebe [4.45]; 12. Wie Melodien zieht es mir [2.40]; 13. In stiller Nacht [3.11]; 14. Da unten in Tale [2.12]; 15. Meine Liebe is grun [1.43]; 16. Liebestreu [2.23]; 17. Vergebliches Standchen [1.52]
Jean Philippe RAMEAU (1683-1764)
18. Dein Gesang, Nachtigall [6.29]
Richard LEVERIDGE (1670-1758)
19. Sprach der alte Schafer [2.20]
Michael ARNE (1740-1786)
20. Die Maid mit dem lieblichen Sinn [2.40]
Giovanni Battista SAMMARTINI (1698-1775)
21. Weisse Schafchen [2.50]
Cristoph Willibald GLUCK (1714-1787)
22. Einem Bach der fliesst [2.22]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
23. Wohl tauscht ihr Vogelein [1.47]; 24. Die Verschweigung [3.01]
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
25. Das Geheimnis [1.52]
Franz SCHUBERT
26. An den Fruhling [2.08]
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
27. Volksliedchen [1.14]
Elisabeth Schwarzkopf (soprano)
piano: Giorgio Favoretto (1-6), Edwin Fischer (7-17) Michael Raucheisen (18-27)
rec. Rome, 16 February 1952 (1-6), Rome, 21 February 1954 (7-17), Berlin, 7 October 1944 (18-27)
ADD mono
ARCHIPEL DESERT ISLAND COLLECTION ARPCD0295 [77.45]

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Elisabeth Schwarzkopf sings Lieder
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
1. An Chloe [2.16] 2. Die Alte [4.27] 3. Sehnsucht nach dem Fruhlinge [1.58] 4. Abendempfindung [5.15] 5. Die Zauberer [2.02]
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
6. Wonne der Wehmut [2.43]
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
7. Der Musensohn [2.00] 8. Seligkeit [2.21] 9. Die Forelle [2.08] 10. Litanei [5.25] 11. Ungeduld [2.50] 12. Gretchen am Spinnrade [3.22]
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
13. Der Nussbaum [3.04] 14. Auftrage [2.17]
Trad arr Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
15. Da unten im Tale [2.19] 16. Och Mod’t ich well en Ding han! [1.41] 17. Vergebliches Standchen [1.38]
Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949)
18. Her gesagt bleibt’s nicht dabei [1.56] 19. Schlechtes Wetter [2.11]
Hugo WOLF (1860-1903)
20. Wiegenlied (im Sommer) [3.12]; 21. Mausfallen-Spruchlein [1.06] 22. Schlafendes Jesuskind [3.25] 23. Epiphanias [4.29] 24. Was soll der Zorn mein Schatz [2.01] 25. Herr was tragt der Boden hier [2.54] 26. Wie glanzt der helle Mond [3.43] 27. Lebewohl [2.19]
Elisabeth Schwarzkopf (soprano)
piano: Walter Gieseking (1-3, rec 1954) Gerald Moore (4-6, 10, 11, 13-21, rec 1954) Edwin Fischer (7, 12, rec 1953) Karl Hudez (8, 9, rec 1946) Wilhelm Furtwangler (22-27, rec 1953)
REGIS RRC1268 [75.15]

The last time I saw Elisabeth Schwarzkopf was on a BBC telecast of a musical workshop she hosted in Scotland. Her looks and demeanour bore no resemblance to the glamorous opera singer portrayed in sleeve-covers and advertising posters. She must have been touching seventy at the time, wore a floral summer frock, was obviously overweight - and she was busy! Interruptions galore, an admonishing finger there, lots of demonstrations on how this should be done and that should be undone, hands on hips, signs of impatience, grim determination etched on a face devoid of make-up …. and a frizzy hair-style. She acted and looked like a bossy hausfrau doing her chores. Surely this wasn’t the same person who sat so demurely next to husband Walter Legge when interviewed on the beeb perhaps a decade or two before? The same person who also wrote an autobiography of her life with her husband in On and Off the Record and didn’t have a harsh word to say about anybody?
 
This transformation requires further investigation surely. Perhaps. I leave the logic behind the actions of individuals to more investigative and far-better resourced experts than myself. But it does make you wonder. Was Dame Elisabeth Schwarzkopf a far more complex person than her public persona indicated? A chameleon of sorts?
 
Similarly there are traces of chameleonesque behaviour in her singing within the portals of these two albums. We are talking here about the decade between 1944 and 1954 and, it may be coincidence, but the development of Schwarzkopf as a singer of some acclaim may be linked with the appearance of Walter Legge on the scene. Prior to March 1946 when Legge put Schwarzkopf through the audition that Karajan famously complained as being the act of a sadist - Legge auditioned his future wife for 90 minutes concentrating on the music of Hugo Wolf - Schwarzkopf had sung mainly soubrette and coloratura roles. By the time they married in 1953 Schwarzkopf had sung in most of the principal opera houses in Europe.
 
But listening to the recording she made in the autumn of 1944 in Berlin with Michael Raucheisen (her teacher’s husband incidentally) no one could have predicted that Schwarzkopf was a singer on the rise. She was then approaching 29 but her voice is uncertain, faltering and not sufficiently under control. To start off, her selection of baroque music, sung in German, is odd. Her voice was not suited to the delicacy of Rameau, Gluck and Sammartini and her other choices were no better. Light and shade are missing, the notes are not secure enough and the passagio between her low and high notes not yet smooth.
 
There is a distinct improvement in her 1952 Rome recital with Giorgio Favoretto although the accompaniment, especially in Schubert’s Ungeduld, leaves something to be desired.
 
Edwin Fischer in the 1954 recital in the same city is much more sympathetic and Schwarzkopf’s soft legato in Brahms’s Feldeinsamkeit admirable. Von ewiger Liebe and Meine Liebe ist grun are a touch too operatic but then that is the style for both pieces.
 
I was not too impressed with the patois and exaggerated pronunciation in Mozart’s Die Alte (with Walter Gieseking), Schumann’s Der Nussbaum and the Brahms arrangement of Och Mod’t, ich well en Ding han! (both with Gerald Moore) while Schwarzkopf’s treatment of Schubert’s Die Forelle (with Karl Hudez) appears too bouncy. But her Ungeduld with Gerald Moore has the correct balance of forcefulness and lyricism.
 
Schwarzkopf has never lacked enthusiasm and energy. This is clearly obvious in the recital at the Salzburg Mozarteum with Wilhelm Furtwängler at the piano. The occasion was the 50th anniversary of Hugo Wolf’s death. Furtwängler had actually recommended himself as accompanist for the occasion and although the cover notes suggest that he almost destroyed the balance between the piano and singer by playing with the lid opened, that is not evident on the recording.
 
What is noticeable is the exposed vibrato in Schwarzkopf’s voice in most of Wolf’s songs (especially Epiphanias), Furtwängler’s control of piano and mezzo-forte (particularly in Herr was tragt Boden hier) and Schwarzkopf’s serene legato.
 
All in all, two albums that open a window into the early development of one of the truly great singers of the 20th Century.

Randolph Magri-Overend

 






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